How to get fit on a budget – to improve your mental and physical health

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If you’re unsure about starting a new gym, or just want to glean some PT knowledge without committing to a full programme of sessions, a lot of trainers offer free initial sessions.

“As a PT myself, I don’t feel disrespected when people come in for a taster session, but rather I celebrate them making the first step to improve their health,” says Wiener.

It doesn’t have to be IRL, either. “Enlisting in the help of a PT can make all the difference in your fitness routine, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to see them in person,” he suggests. “If you really have no budget, find a PT on social media and don’t be scared to get in touch with any questions you may have, as long as they’re reputable and qualified.”

It’s also worth waiting for gym membership deals, which don’t just happen in January. Some gyms will offer family deals, partner deals, or basic package deals throughout the year. Depending on how you want to work out – and whether you can wait to sign up – this might be the way to go.

Bulking up

With food bank use soaring and supermarket prices skyrocketing, many people are having trouble getting enough to eat. Sticking to your macro or calorie targets might feel a bit trite in the middle of this, but evidence has shown working towards a goal is great for your self-efficacy, so stick with it.

“Buying in bulk is always going to help people on a budget. The frozen section is your friend,” says David Wiener, nutrition & training specialist. “Whether it’s fruit, vegetables or meat, it will be cheaper than buying fresh.”

But what about hitting protein targets? The average man needs 55g of protein per day, just to maintain his bodyweight. But these days chicken breasts ain’t cheap.

“There are choices you can make to up your protein intake which don’t involve bulk buying chicken,” says Wiener. “Sardines are a great, affordable option. Oats are also high in protein, low in cost, and very versatile. Cottage cheese is also underrated, and is a great choice to add to salads to increase your protein intake. For every dinner you make with chicken or turkey, mix in some lentils, which are low in price, yet high in protein.”

Do what you can

If you’re really trying to save, you don’t need to step foot in a gym, or speak to a PT at all. Walking is obviously a free way to move – Wiener suggests a good podcast and a scenic route to keep it fresh.

Ditto, calisthenics. “Bodyweight exercises are a cost-effective way to workout and can be incredibly intense – it’s perfect if you’re a fan of HIIT training,” says Wiener. “The short bursts of exercise that make up a bodyweight routine have been proven to help with weight loss more effectively than long cardio sessions.”

With many parks offering pull-up bars, it’s easier than ever to start. You could even combine it with a run, stopping every time you see a bench to perform some tricep dips or raised push-ups.

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